May 20, 2016

Lena Dunham publishes extracts from her college diary for charity



Copies of the limited edition collection of Lena Dunham’s college diary entries sold out in 24 hours. Image via Girls Write Now.

As we recently wrote on MobyLives, Lena Dunham has been making forays into publishing, launching an online mag and newsletter, Lenny Letter, and starting her own imprint at Random House, also called Lenny. All of this hasn’t stopped the ever-busy multi-hyphenate from taking time to revisit some of her early writings in the form of a diary she kept in college, and editing them for a limited-edition book.

Titled Is it Evil Not to be Sure?, the volume of “excerpts from my most absurd & secret 19 year old journal,” as Dunham described it in an Instagram post, has already sold through its printing of 2,000 copies, though it’s still available as an ebook.

In a note posted on the Lenny Letter site before the books went on sale, Dunham writes:

I’m not sure what inspired me to record my thoughts this way. While nonlinear observations are now the norm because of Twitter-enforced brevity, at the time it wasn’t such an obvious way to write… But I think the form mimicked what I was experiencing internally: massive personal growth, the kind that comes from a million tiny shocking moments rather than one big bang.

And while she notes that her diary entries “don’t begin” to put her in the “ranks” of confessional writers like Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank, and Mary MacLane (whose brilliant I Await the Devil’s Coming is published by Melville House), Dunham argues that memoir, while sometimes “maligned as a way for solipsistic lazy bitches to get and maintain their reputations,” remains “a reminder (to me and I hope to you) that your experiences, large and small, are worth preserving.”

Proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to Girls Write Now, an organization that, in Dunham’s words, “provides opportunities and education to underserved high-school girls so they can use writing for its highest purposes: catharsis, activism, and envisioning a better future.”



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.